Why I (Co)Wrote It: Her Eternal Moonlight

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So somewhere among books on careers and worldbuilding, I co-wrote a book on how Sailor Moon impacted female fans in North America with my friend Bonnie. To this day it stands out a bit among my writings, and that is a worthwhile journey to explore in this series.

It was born at Fanime, a Bay Area anime con. Bonnie and I observed the large amount of Sailor Moon cosplayers at a gathering, and it got us asking if anyone had written about what Sailor Moon meant to people. We saw cosplayers who probably hadn’t been born when Sailor Moon first aired in the US. We remembered the impact it had from our younger days. Someone had to have written about this . . .

. . . and we checked the internet and were very disappointed. So somewhere during the con or after we agreed to write a book on it. To this day we couldn’t remember who first came up with the idea or suggested writing a book. But a book we did write.

Our idea was to simply interview as many fans as we could find of Sailor Moon of any age and interview them. We also wanted to focus exclusively on female-identifying fans so we told their story specifically. For years we had heard from female fans what Sailor Moon meant to them, and it was time to see what they had to say.

Finding people was easy and people were anxious to jump on board. We had a standard interview form, we also talked to people by various means, and compiled our notes. Every interview brought stories of passion and interest and transformation – it was humbling.

We were on the right track.

Of course we wanted to research more on what else had been written on Sailor Moon, and I ended up with a pile (virtual and otherwise) of anime books and references. It was honestly underwhelming – Sailor Moon often got shortchanged, and in a few infuriating cases written off as a “girl thing.”

It only inspired us more.

Once we had the interviews we compiled them, and found something that further inspired us – clear patterns. In the end we identified nine common ways Sailor Moon transformed people’s lives, from identification to careers. No one had the same experiences, but everyone’s experiences might touch on a few of these nine categories.

Also it allowed us to make each chapter a reference to a given Sailor Scout’s attack. Because we were not going to let that possibility slide.

The result was each chapter tightly focused on one major impact, exploring personal testimonies from the interviewees. We must have done well – when we sent people test copies they were happy!

Finally, the cover. We had to have the right cover, and Fanime had provided as well. We’d met the incomparable Jennifer Cox at Fanime, and were impressed with her style – one of her strengths was taking various ancient art styles and doing pop culture pictures. We asked for a Sailor Moon one with a Grecian theme, and she made something perfect.

So that was the story of the book. Inspired at a con when we saw something that just had to be done. Inspired by the people we talked to. Confirmed when we saw a void of thought about Sailor Moon and even disrespect in some circles. Wrapped up in a gorgeous cover.

If there’s a story to take away from this it’s that sometimes you know you have to write a book. If you know when those moments truly appear, that fire can power you through the process and even be rekindled to burn brighter.

Steven Savage

Sailor Moon Book Update

We’re actually getting into the end part of writing the Sailor Moon book – but we’re not out of the sparkly crystal woods yet – or for awhile.

So first up, we had two chapterson how Sailor Moon affected and inspired people in hobbies and to change their lives.  We wrote them separately – only to find they were really one.  In fandom it’s hard to separate personal growth, fannish hobbies, and careers – it may look like it from the outside, but as soon as you start diving in . . . well, it doesn’t.

You’d think, I, Mr. Geek Job Guru would have thought of that, but I also thought you could abstract them – you can’t.  So we’re merging the new chapters together and moving part of that chapter to one on how people got more interested in Japan due to Sailor Moon.

Now what did we find?  Well, again a LOT.

Sailor Moon is almost a kind of ur-Fandom, an archetypical one.  You know the idea fandom inspires you to create, gets you involved in things, sets your career?  Pretty much Sailor Moon for many people was that, especially people who found it int he 90’s.

The thing is Sailor Moon, though it may seem goofy or odd, presents a lot to work with.  You can be inspired by the art, or inspired by the characters to try things.  You can take an interest in Japan and languages.  The complicated plotline inspires fanfic.  The references inspire analysis.  Sailor Moon in short provides a LOT to inspire people to try things.

Then throw in a growing fandom that blossomed in the age of the internet and the strong camaraderie, and again – you have a near archetypical fandom experience.

I think for many Sailor Moon set patterns in fandom.  It had all the elements necessary to inspire and engage, happened at the right time, and dug some deep roads.  It’s another chapter that leaves us kind of humble – moreso because we saw some people go through this experience directly.

Now next up, more editing and research, but also we’re probably going to do some more interviews.  We found a lot, but I’m wondering if a few more interviews can add more to it.

  • Steve